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10 min read Jun 06, 2023

Hazard Insurance: A Guide For Homeowners

One-third of the homes in America are at high risk of natural disasters according to a study. Nearly every property is exposed to peril risk. If you are thinking of buying a home, you must be prepared to protect your investment.

Most mortgage lenders require home buyers to purchase hazard insurance to safeguard against potential risks and unexpected events. If hazard insurance is mandatory for home buyers with a mortgage, you should know more about it.

Read on to find out what it is, why it’s important, and what it covers.

🚀 Key Takeaways

  • Hazard Insurance vs Homeowner’s Insurance: Hazard Insurance is a part of homeowner’s insurance and only covers hazard damage. Homeowner’s insurance also covers liabilities, accidents, and personal property.
  • Open Perils vs Named Perils: Open Perils hazard insurance covers all the risks other than the ones specified in the policy as exclusions. Named Perils policy covers only the risks listed in the policy.
  • Actual Cash Value vs Replacement Cost Coverage: Some policies give the actual cash value of your property minus depreciation. However, many other policies cover the entire property replacement cost.
  • Is Hazard Insurance Required?: Homeowners applying for mortgage need to have hazard insurance. In case of hazard damage, the mortgage company can ensure complete repayment of the loan amount.

What is Hazard Insurance?

Hazard insurance is a type of security coverage. It protects homeowners from financial loss in case of property damage or destruction by certain hazards. These hazards may include fire, windstorms, hail, explosions, vandalism, and theft.

If there is a hazard and the owner does not have insurance, the mortgage company can lose their money. To avoid such a scenario, the company asks the homeowner to give proof of insurance coverage before releasing the loan amount.

Generally, people use hazard insurance interchangeably with homeowner’s insurance. However, it is a part of homeowner’s insurance.

What Does Hazard Insurance Cover?

The hazards or perils covered by your policy will depend on the terms and conditions listed in it. Reviewing your policy carefully is important to understand the coverage and exclusions related to it.

In general, the homeowner’s insurance, which contains hazard insurance as a component, covers the following:

  • Dwelling Coverage: This provides for any damage to the structure, foundation, or roof of your property.
  • Personal Property Coverage: You get coverage for repairing or replacing any damaged or lost personal belonging.
  • Other Structures Coverage: If any detached structure of your property is damaged, you are covered. It can include the outhouse, garage, or fence.
  • Liability Coverage: Someone may sustain an injury on your property and file a lawsuit against you. The concerned person’s medical bills are covered.
  • Additional Living Expenses Coverage: Suppose your property is not fit for living due to damage. Insurance covers your alternate housing cost and daily expenses.

👍 Perils Covered

According to the Insurance Information Institute, a homeowner’s insurance policy with the highest coverage will protect against the following 16 perils:

  • Fire or Lightning
  • Vandalism
  • Theft
  • Riot or Civil Strife
  • Explosion
  • Volcanic Eruption
  • Smoke
  • Ice, snow, and sleet Layer
  • Damage caused by aircraft
  • Damage caused by vehicles
  • Falling object
  • Accidental overflow of water or steam from plumbing, HVAC systems, or sprinklers
  • Cracks and bulges in pipes and HVAC systems
  • Freezing of pipes, HVAC systems, and other appliances
  • Accidental damage due to artificially generated electrical current

It is a good idea to regularly review and update your insurance coverage. You should ensure that it is adequate to protect your home and belongings.

What Is Excluded From Hazard Insurance Coverage?

Even the broadest insurance coverage will have some exclusions. The insurance provider will list the excluded perils in the policy document. Some examples of hazard or home insurance exclusions are as follows:

  • Water damage from flooding
  • Earth movement
  • Pollution
  • War situations
  • Nuclear hazards
  • Intentional loss
  • Government action
  • Ordinance of law
  • Smoke from industrial operations or agricultural runoff
  • Damage by pets
  • Neglect by owner
  • Smog and rust
  • Wear and tear
  • Vandalism in a home vacant for more than 60 days
  • Power failure
  • Slow water leaks causing pipe bursting
  • Expanding, bulging, shrinking, or settling of parts of the structure
  • Mold Damage
  • Termite damage

Some mortgage lenders may require you to buy separate insurance for the above-mentioned events. You can opt for coverage for flooding, earthquakes, and sewer backup. This can increase the insurance cost.

Levels of Coverage

Insurance policies have different levels of coverage. Home hazard insurance comes with three types of coverage that you may get after a claim.

  • Actual Cash Value: The insurance company pays the cost to replace the home or personal belongings affected by the hazard. They subtract the depreciation cost from the actual cash value of the property at the time of claim.
  • Replacement Cost: The company pays the entire amount of replacing or repairing your property and personal belongings under this coverage. They do not deduct the depreciation cost from the claim amount.
  • Guaranteed Replacement Cost: This is the highest coverage level. The company gives the entire replacement cost to you. Even if the cost exceeds the limit specified in the policy, you are covered.

You should check the coverage level and premium amount of the hazard insurance policy before buying.

🤔 How Does Hazard Insurance Work?

Hazard insurance covers a range of perils. Here’s how it works:

  • Purchase and Premium Payment: You need to purchase property hazard insurance from a licensed insurance company. After the purchase, you are supposed to pay an annual premium. The amount depends on the location and assessed value of your property, the type of coverage, and the deductible.
  • Claims Process: You have to report the details of any hazard-related damage to the insurance company. Supporting evidence like photographs and estimates for repairs are required. The insurance company will evaluate the claim, check the coverage limits, and approve the claim if the criteria are met.
  • Policy Exclusions: Make sure that you are aware of the exclusions of the hazard insurance policy. Some of the common exclusions are earthquakes, war, floods, and certain types of negligence. To cover these exclusions, you have to buy additional insurance. This can increase your financial burden.
  • Policy Renewal: You have to renew the policy annually before the due date. The insurance company may revise hazard insurance premium rates as per your claims history and change in risk factors. Check the revised rates before proceeding otherwise you may end up paying more than you expected.

Your policy outlines the terms and conditions of your coverage. Make sure to thoroughly review it to understand the coverage, exclusions, and responsibilities of the policyholder. Some key components of the policy may include:

  • Coverage Limits: It is the maximum amount an insurance company pays for damages. Make sure your coverage limits are enough to rebuild or repair your home. You should be able to replace damaged belongings.
  • Deductible: A deductible is the amount you agree to pay out of your pocket in case of hazard damage. Higher deductibles may lower premiums but you should choose an affordable figure.
  • Covered Perils: Check the policy for covered perils, which are hazards that the policy covers. You should make sure to understand what events are covered and excluded from your policy.
  • Exclusions: These are hazards or events which are not covered by the policy, such as floods and earthquakes. Additional coverage may be needed to get coverage for these excluded events.
  • Policy Renewal: It outlines renewal terms, including policy duration, and renewal process. It also mentions any changes in coverage or premium rates upon renewal. The policyholder is supposed to renew the policy before the due date.
  • Responsibilities: The policy specifies the policyholder’s responsibilities. These may include maintaining the property, promptly reporting changes, and cooperating with the claims process for covered events.

💲 How Much is Hazard Insurance?

All standard home insurance policies cover hazard insurance. The average cost of home insurance in June 2023 is $1,820 per year in the U.S. But this figure varies by state and depends on some factors.

  • Home Condition and Location: Your property’s age and location are essential for mortgage calculation. The insurers conduct a 4-point inspection including the plumbing, roof, electrical, and HVAC systems for insurance records.
  • Your Credit History: The hazard insurance company checks your credit score and the history of insurance claims before issuing the policy.
  • Home Safety Features: You need to have safety features in place. These include fire extinguishers, alarm systems, and smoke detectors.
  • Risk Level: The insurer checks the probability of natural disasters in your area. They also consider high-risk home features like swimming pools and pets.
  • Cost of Rebuilding: The square foot area of your property determines the cost of rebuilding it. The insurer uses the figure to calculate the coverage.

All insurance companies take the above-mentioned factors into consideration while calculating your coverage and premium.

What is Hazard Insurance on a Mortgage?

Mortgage lenders require homeowners to purchase hazard insurance. The policy protects their investment in case of property damage or destruction. Even if hazard insurance is not taken separately, it should be covered under the homeowner’s insurance.

Homeowners should understand the importance of hazard insurance. Without it, they can fall into financial trouble. Suppose a property suffers from hazard damage and the owner does not have insurance. They have to continue to pay the mortgage amount and also pay for home replacement and repair.

Thus, it is important to purchase hazard insurance for financial well-being. Mortgage companies also insist on it before lending money.

Home Insurances That Protect Against Hazards

Hazard Insurance is generally a part of homeowner’s insurance. There are eight types of homeowner’s insurance policies available. Each of them is meant for individual property types and provides different coverages for hazard damage.

HO - 1For single-family homes, protects against 10 perils, actual cash value coverage
HO - 2For single-family homes, protects against 16 perils, dwelling coverage at replacement cost value, and personal property coverage at actual cash value
HO - 3For single-family homes, all-risks/open perils policy, dwelling coverage at replacement cost value, personal property coverage at actual cash value, liability coverage, loss-of-use coverage
HO - 4For single-family homes, only for renters, covers 16 perils, personal property covered at replacement cost, liability coverage, loss-of-use coverage
HO - 5For single-family homes, all-risks/open perils policy, dwelling and personal property covered at replacement cost, and high coverage for expensive items
HO - 6Condo insurance, depends on coverage of HOA insurance, dwelling coverage, liability coverage, loss-of-use coverage, personal property coverage, medical coverage, and loss assessment coverage
HO - 7Mobile home insurance coverage, all-risks/open perils policy, dwelling coverage at replacement cost value, personal property coverage at actual cash value, liability coverage, loss-of-use coverage
HO - 8For older or historic homes, named perils policy, covers 10 perils, reimbursement determined by actual cash value

How to Get a Hazard Insurance Policy?

To get hazard insurance for home, you need to buy a homeowner’s insurance policy. Follow these general steps to get one:

  • Research and Comparison: Search for reputable insurance companies in your locality. Check their ratings and reviews. Compare the coverage level, premium amount, deductibles, and policy term to choose the one that fits best.
  • Assess Your Property: You need to assess the risk associated with your property. For that, consider factors like location, construction type, property age, and hazard risk. You can estimate how these may affect your premium and coverage.
  • Compare Quotes: You can ask 2 to 3 insurance companies to give quotes. The company can evaluate the risk involved and tell you the insurance cost. After receiving the quotes, you can compare the options and choose the suitable one.
  • Underwriting and Approval: Send in an application for insurance to the company you like. They will review it, verify the details, and start the underwriting process. After that, they will decide whether to approve or reject your application.
  • Issue of Policy: After the application is approved, you get the policy document. Carefully go through the offer document and check the coverage, exclusions, deductibles, and additional riders.
  • Payment of Premium: You need to pay the first premium installment to activate the policy. Generally, these installments are annual. You can contact your insurance company for other payment options. To keep the policy active, always pay before the due date.

The Bottom Line

Homeowner’s hazard insurance is a critical aspect of protecting your home and financial security. It’s a requirement for most homeowners who have a mortgage. Purchasing homeowner’s insurance can give hazard coverage as well.

It is designed to provide coverage for damages or destruction of your property due to specific hazards. You can protect your investment and have peace of mind by taking active steps to manage your insurance coverage.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is hazard insurance required?

If you are taking mortgage loan for your home, you need to buy hazard insurance. Most mortgage lenders require it to ensure complete repayment of the loan amount.

2. Is hazard insurance the same as homeowner's insurance?

Hazard insurance is a specific type of insurance that covers certain hazards. Homeowners insurance is a broader coverage that includes accidents, liability coverage and personal property coverage. Home insurance includes hazard coverage.

3. When can I stop paying hazard insurance?

You may stop paying for hazard insurance in cases of mortgage payoff, mortgage refinance, or having a low loan-to-value ratio. However, confirm with your mortgage lender before stopping payments.

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